Today, we celebrate our love for the best companions we have… Our pets! “International Love your pet day” exists for a reason, our adorable ball of fur brings us joy and happiness and we can’t thank them enough for their unconditional love and blind loyalty.
It is a heartbreaking moment to leave them behind, waiting for us on a lonely deck, while we explore the seas. Whether for a week or a year, we sometimes have to make this hard decision. But what if you didn’t have to?
Your boat is no enemy to your pet, and an environment that doesn’t seem adapted to animals can be transformed to suit the needs of your dog, cat, parrot, hamster or whatever ball of fur you cherish! We at Navily work to make your boating experience more enjoyable in a holistic matter. This is why we teamed up with world travelers and influencers Thaís Cañadó and Beto Toledo on this “Love your pet Day” to cook our community a little guide on how to organize a “pet friendly” environment on your boat.
The young couple has resigned from their 9 to 5 jobs and are traveling the world aboard a sailboat (Jeanneau 42 DS ) since may 2017, documenting their journey through a YouTube channel named Sailing Around the World and Instagram @sailingaw.
Along with sailing with them, comes Google, a 6 year old Golden Retriever that already has many fans on Instagram @google_golden.
Last week, we had the chance to interview Thaís who gave us great insight on how to travel with your pet. Here’s what she had to say about Google and his life aboard.
Dive in, a pet on board is no crazy endeavor!
When Thaís first thought about getting Google on their boating journey, people around them were pretty skeptical! How could they take such a big dog on such a small boat? it would be impossible! But as Thaís explained so well, ‘’When you love your dog and care for him, the environment is of secondary measure. In fact, the most important thing to keep in mind when sailing with your dog, is not to forget he is on board and keep giving him as much attention as when on land.”
A simple and beautiful rule to follow that will shape the rest of your pet’s experience onboard and ease the adaptation process.
The first steps of bringing your pet on board
At first Google spent a day out, then a weekend, a week, then a month… Gradually adapting your dog to the boating environment is of crucial importance. You have to let him appreciate the new space and take his marks. As Thaís expressed: ‘’ It’s very important to pay attention a lot at the beginning, check his behaviour, see if he fears anything, and most importantly take this process slowly. Adopt a step-by-step approach, to make sure not to rush your companion and avoid risking stress and unhappiness.“
Thaís also stressed the importance of keeping the same routine the dog usually follows on land. ‘’You have to make him feel like nothing has changed, keep the same food, the same favourite blanket and toys (the toys are very important for when the weather is bad so he stays entertained in the compact space that is the cabin). But most importantly, and I will not say it enough, the LOVE and ATTENTION you give him everyday has to be the same on the boat’’.
Thaís makes a valuable point on insisting on this matter. Sailing asks you a lot of attention and focus, and even if you love your dog to the moon and back, your caring and attention might drop. It is of crucial matter to be able to balance it enough so that you don’t forget about him, while keeping a safe environment for everyone on the boat.
One example of this is managing bad weather on the deck! We humans sense the danger of an agitated sea, but dogs like Google seem to show unchanged behaviour to bad weather conditions. They stay calm as a summer sea! ‘’ 20 knots of wind and Google would be there chilling and sleeping on the deck. Although we can laugh about it now, as safety measures, I strongly recommend to always keep your pet inside in such conditions. This way, you can keep your focus on sailing without having to worry for your his safety’’ explained Thaís.
Thaís described : ‘’ If you can manage this, everything will go smoothly. Dogs adapt well to sea life and they even enjoy it a lot! I have a lot of friends who also took their dogs on board. None of them had problems getting their companion to love the journey!’’.
Sailing with your dog is no unconquerable challenge, and if you take it seriously and gradually, you should succeed and have your pet well adapted for the journey that lies ahead.
Safety on board : Essentials
It is probably what people worry about the most, and a reason why a lot of boaters leave their dogs behind. In reality, it isn’t much to achieve. A handful of crucial items and a few good habits will constitute a safe environment for your companion.
The first “must-have” is a life vest adapted to dogs. It’s essential in the beginning and mandatory on the deck in bad weather. “At first, it’s good to make him wear it on the deck, and even if dogs are usually good swimmers it’s part of the adaptation period. Today Google out-swims both of us and is familiar with life on the boat, plus we never keep him on the deck in tough weather so the life vest really is here for exceptional situations. That being said, you must have it on board and ready to use at all times” explained Thaís.
Second is of course a good leash. Thaís recommends a silicon one for a very good reason : “ Silicon leashes, in addition to being strong and sustainable, dry faster and won’t keep your dog’s body wet. It’s important as staying wet for a long period can cause your dog to develop skin problems”.
A crucial matter to take notice of that will also have an impact on the swimming schedule of your dog and stress the importance of having at least two towels for him. “Dogs can develop skin problems known as Dermatitis if they stay wet for a long period. To avoid this, we try to let him swim in the morning and have a towel to dry him fast. At night, he’s wrapped up in his sleeping towel, making sure he stays safe and dry”.
Google also has his own first aid kit, in case he gets injured, but nothing very specific and so different from human needs. As for sea-sickness, it seems our furry friends are not immune to it but as Thaís told us ‘’ It seems Google has experienced sea-sickness. Sometimes he gets sleepier, less active, but it is not an exact science. He never got sick though and usually taking him on shore is a sufficient remedy… He starts sniffing the air and activity levels rise suddenly. It looks like a good way to get him back on his feet from my experience’’.
Sea-sickness or homesickness, whatever it is, our companion seems to enjoy a bit of land once in a while. Planning regular stopovers seems like a good thing to do.
Health & customs for your furry companion
Your dog’s health, and safety on board is important. Thaís recommends seeing the Vet at least once a year. She explained : “The sea environment is not especially dangerous and won’t put your dog at risk. For Google we keep the same Vet routine that when we are on land. That being said, before a long journey we will see the vet to ensure Google is fit for the trip’’.
European regulations ask for updated vaccine records every 3 years and it seems that it’s sufficient to get your dog travelling the seas around the continent. US ports are usually more demanding. It is recommended to check with the marina’s captaincy before planning a stopover on US soils.
Regarding passports and crossing borders while sailing, we learnt that there is not much to worry about. Of course, keeping your pet’s documentation up to date and verifying any differences in customs policies is always a good habit to have. As Thaís expressed: “Google has an Italian passport! His papers are up to date regarding vaccines and health follow-ups but we never had any troubles with customs! Sailing is nothing like flying with your pet, the ports are much more open. So far, we have never experienced quarantine situations or refusal to anchor anywhere due to Google, so there’s nothing to be afraid of!’’.
Marinas & mooring areas and dog friendliness
At first, dog friendliness of your destinations seems of paramount importance. Indeed you believe it will determine where you can go or not and impact your planned journey! However, as our travelling couple explained, the sailing rules are more flexible than any other kind of transportation. Thaís told us: “For ports it’s usually no problem as long as the dog has a leash on! Regarding mooring areas, it’s more complicated. Some of them don’t accept Google but mostly on beaches… On the sea, other boaters are usually happy to see him jump in the water and interact with them. It’s very true during summer but much more flexible the rest of the year as less people are populating the shore areas. In high periods, we would recommend arriving early in the morning or late at night to avoid the security and the crowd. Sure, you have to be a little inventive sometimes but on the hundred of places we have visited, most of the time Google was very welcome! Pet friendliness status of your destination shouldn’t be a reason to leave your furry companion behind! Arrangement can always be made!”
Words of experience and wisdom that will resonate in all our pet lover’s heart, and conclude an insightful interview that made me want to bring my own cat on my next boating adventure.
So like Thaís and Beto, if you prepare well, follow a few simple rules and equip with some essentials, there is really no reason why you should leave your best friend on the dock!
The Navily Team